The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called on the various tiers of government to take adequate measures to protect school children while they are on the road to and from school.
The Minister made the call in Abuja on Friday when he received officials of the Children Accident Prevention Initiative (CAPI), an NGO working with the Federal Ministry of Education on the Safe School Initiative, at his office in Abuja.
“I think the various tiers of government need to take their responsibility more seriously. The various tiers of government must be able to provide vehicles and buses for school children.
“I think we must ask our local governments and state governments in particular to provide this means of transportation for our children,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed also said more efforts should be made toward the provision of emergency services, clinics, and ambulances in every nook and cranny of the country to save the lives of school children involved in accidents.
Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, third left, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Deaconess Grace Gekpe, and National Coordinator of CAPI, Elder Stephen Akujobi
He expressed the concern that school children have become extremely vulnerable and endangered, particularly while crossing the road, due to the unruly activities of some motorcyclists and motorists.
“I agonise every time I see school children coming out of school. Very young people, they have nobody to guide them, they depend on kind motorists who will stop. Most times people don’t stop for them and it’s not a task that CAPI can do alone. I think the society must take ownership of this initiative because if our children are not safe then our future is not guaranteed,” he said.
The Minister observed that the worth of a country is usually evaluated on the basis of how much it takes care of the most vulnerable people in the society, including children, the physically challenged, elders and women.
The Minister commended CAPI for the laudable initiative and enjoined them to widen their partnership to include the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Association of Commercial Motorcyclists, Vehicle Inspection Officers, Federal Road Safety Commission, Neighbourhood Watch, Health Workers and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
He pledged the collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and its parastatals with CAPI, especially in the area of advocacy, to educate Nigerians on the need to obey traffic regulations.
In his remarks, the National Coordinator of CAPI, Elder Stephen Akujobi, said the initiative, which has been endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Education, came about as a result of the high number of school children killed in road accidents.
He said as part of efforts to curb the unfortunate situation, CAPI is advocating the use of reflective jackets and hand bands by school children to ensure greater visibility and caution on the part of motorcyclists and motorists.
The CAPI Coordinator also used the occasion to decorate the Minister and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Deaconess Grace Gekpe, as Patrons on the Initiative.